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Flames edge Wild to grab Northwest lead

Wednesday, 01.23.2008 / 2:34 AM / Game of the Night

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made 23 saves as the Calgary took over as the new leaders of the Northwest Division with a tough 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Watch Kiprusoff help keep his team in the lead: 700K 
Here one day, gone the next.
   
Such has been the norm when it comes to first place in the Northwest Division, as the Calgary Flames became the new leaders with a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday night.
   
Craig Conroy scored the game-winner for the Flames with 11:24 remaining in the third period, while Stephane Yelle had a goal and an assist. It was the third straight win for Calgary, which doesn’t return to the ice until next Wednesday.
   
"We all play to score goals, get assists and help out the team and sometimes when it's not going your way offensively, it becomes a grind," Yelle said.  "When you get a couple of goals like that, it helps you out with your confidence and makes it fun."
   
Brian Rolston had the lone goal for the Wild, which at 27-19-3 fell a point behind the Flames in the division standings. Minnesota concludes a three-game road trip on Thursday night at Colorado before heading into the All-Star break.
   
Rolston gave the Wild the lead just 3:31 into the game ( 700K ) when he took a pass from Marian Gaborik and fired a slap shot from the top of the circle past Miikka Kiprusoff for his 16th goal of the season. Kiprusoff finished with 23 saves for the Flames.
   
"You're not going to see anybody run away with it," Rolston said of the competitive Northwest.

"All the teams are going to stay bunched up and it's going to be those teams that can stay the most consistent down the stretch that are going to be in the playoffs."

Yelle evened things when he tallied his third goal of the season at 2:12 of the second period ( 700K ).

Matthew Lombardi skated with the puck behind the Wild net before dishing it in front to Yelle, who put it past Josh Harding to make it 1-1.

On the game-winner, Conroy took a pass from forward Owen Nolan and lifted a backhand shot over Harding for his eighth goal of the season.

Conroy admitted that Colorado’s 4-0 loss to Nashville earlier in the night provided some extra motivation heading into the third period. Every point counts in the ever-so-tight Northwest Division.

"I had passed up a few shots earlier. They said shoot it, so I just threw a backhander in there and it was nice to see it go in," Conroy said.  "It's so close. We knew going into the third that Colorado had lost and if we win this we go into the break in first place."

Flames coach Mike Keenan was pleased to see others contribute while captain Jarome Iginla is mired in a seven-game scoring drought. It’s Iginla’s longest slump since he went nine games without a goal from Nov. 16-Dec. 25, 2005.

"It's good to see that those guys are contributing," Keenan said. "It's encouraging that they can build some offensive confidence as well as play well defensively."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic